What’s Next for Events? 3 Things Marketers Need to Know

September 14, 2022

JR Sherman

JR Sherman is the CEO of RainFocus. With more than 20 years of leading highly impactful service and SaaS businesses, he is highly regarded for his expertise in SaaS, events, marketing and experiential marketing. Sherman was named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives by Business Travel News.

This year, marketers continue to find themselves in a tough spot as COVID-19 and other viruses such as monkeypox impact the event industry. Cancel an in-person event? Postpone it? Move it to a virtual platform? Even with limited viable options, major events scrambled and struggled to change course in an efficient and gratifying manner. In the same vein as the initial COVID outbreak in 2020, experiential marketers, brand managers, digital marketers and every practitioner in between found themselves in another round of unexpected adversity. Today, COVID is still a consideration, as attendees and organizers alike tap into testing technologies to ensure in-person events are safe and secure. 

For event marketers especially, the uncertainties remain as global disruptions continue aside from the virus having an overwhelming presence. While wishful thinking can help us get through the day, the reality is that marketers must prepare for unpredictabilities that cause last-minute changes and adapt with a nimbleness that will better the brand for years to come. Here’s how marketers can hope for the best but plan for the worst while still successfully executing their upcoming events. 

Say “Bye” to the Event Binary 

It’s tempting to assume in-person events are the ideal, and online events are an adequate substitute. This binary thinking—pitting in-person events against online ones—will only lead to disparate marketing strategies.

In fact, with the right customer-centric strategy and a comprehensive event management platform, experienced marketers can put on a show that results in exceptional ROI via webcam, in a conference center or in a combination of the two. The benefit to hosting a conference virtually or in a hybrid sphere is the ability to hyper-personalize content for attendees, garner data on what was impactful and engaging for listeners and put insights to use.

For example, recognizing an attendee who registered for an event as the same customer who downloaded a specific eBook or white paper a few months prior allows for targeted recommendations on tracks and content that fits their specific needs. Event data can be used year-round to continue engaging customers with relevant touchpoints that map back to their event experience. Regardless of when and where learning and networking take place, events are a powerful marketing channel.

The binary can also exist beyond the online versus in-person debate. Enterprise marketers are guilty of siloing their event marketing tools from the rest of their marketing technology stack, even though customer data is pivotal to successful events. Platforms and tools used for event marketing and management need to be closely integrated with MAPs, CRM and other tools to ensure a comprehensive and real-time picture of the customer journey. Integrated, end-to-end technologies that break down data silos can optimize the customer experience from registration through post-event touchpoints, creating unmatched value for both customers and marketers. 

Content Is King Across All Channels

Make no mistake. Marketers, an in-person presentation or Q&A does not guarantee quality content. Just because there may physically be bright lights, a sleek destination and rockstar guest speakers doesn’t mean the audience is sold. Just as you might pour over a presentation for a stadium audience of thousands, content shared online must be informing and engaging, offering personalized insights based on the viewer. An in-person conference with dull content is far worse than a virtual event that keeps attendees’ eyes on screens and engaged with others attending virtually, as well.

By investing in thoughtful and relevant content that’s targeted at participants based on preferences, buyer stage, interest and previous engagements, virtual events can create 10,000 more unique experiences versus a more traditional event. 

Event marketers aren’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the return to normal. But by approaching events holistically and creating tailored, captivating content targeted to customer preferences and insights, your event marketing programs will transcend the binary choice of virtual and physical, and deliver personalized content through engaging experiences to grow customer relationships and strengthen brand affinity. 

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Partner Voices
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion.  A “New Wave  for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center  is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.